1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. In a large Dutch oven, render the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon from the pan to a paper towel– lined plate and set aside.
3. Season the beef with 2 teaspoons of the salt and
1 1⁄2 teaspoons of the pepper and brown the beef in the
bacon fat, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer the browned beef to a platter and repeat with the remaining beef.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the platter with the meat. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shallot, carrot, and garlic and cook until the shallot begins to wilt, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the beef
and mushrooms to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated. Sprinkle the flour and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt and 1 1⁄2 teaspoons pepper over the contents of the pan and stir well to coat evenly. Cook for 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the cognac, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the wine, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and parsley sprigs and bring to a simmer.
5. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1 1⁄2 hours, remove
the pan from the oven, and add the potatoes. Make sure the
potatoes are completely submerged in the liquid. Cover, return the pan to the oven, and cook until the meat and potatoes are fork-tender, 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours longer.
6. While the meat is cooking, prepare the pearl onions:
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, use a paring knife to cut off the root end of each onion. Squeeze the onion from the opposite end; it should pop out of its skin. Discard the skin.
7. Heat the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a medium sauté
pan over medium heat. When the sugar is dissolved and the
vinegar begins to bubble, add the pearl onions. Increase the
heat to medium- high and toss the onions in the syrup. Cook,
tossing or stirring frequently, just until the onions are glazed; remove from the heat and set aside.
8. When you’re ready to serve, remove the bay leaves and stir in the glazed onions. Serve with cooked noodles, rice, or a loaf of crusty French bread. Garnish with the chopped parsley.
Yield: 6 - 8 servings